Yesterday was a great example of how wonderful Edmonton is in the summertime. I woke up bright and early in the morning to make it to the City Center Farmer’s Market and was pleasantly surprised when upon looking out the window I saw something I hadn’t seen in a while… a clear blue sky and sunshine!
The market was packed as it is every week, but there was a great energy throughout as everyone seemed so happy to be able to walk around without an umbrella. I took a seat at Credo Coffee for the first time and sipped slowly on a very nice soy café latte. They use Silk soymilk, and it seems to have a (in my opinion) nicer consistency than the one Starbucks uses after being frothed.
For the first time since the farmers market started this year I left empty handed. It worked out for the best, considering my next stop ended up being the Whyte Avenue Art Walk and the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. I had not intended on going to two farmers markets today, I didn’t even think of the Strathcona one when I went to the University area, but I’m happy with the way it worked out.
The Art Walk covers one of Edmonton’s most popular avenues with art from a variety of artists for a few days. I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of styles from very traditional landscapes, to graffiti, to artists that experimented with different materials and patterns. I’m so glad I made it out there.
The Old Strathcona Farmers Market was already in full swing and there were sections where it was elbow to elbow. One of the first vendors I saw had a few clearly labeled vegan options. Bite After Bite had veggie and sweet potato samosas, but what really caught my eye was the Seasonal Spicy Sesame Rice Noodle Salad (it’s only available in the summer time.) It was such a fantastic combination of flavours and textures. Rice noodles, veggies, LOTS of cilantro, soy sauce (so this is not gluten free), and blackened sesame seeds. I’ll be back for more soon.
There was a gluten free vendor called Gourmet Specialty Foods, that didn’t have many vegan options, but at least there were two: baked pakoras, and date squares. I liked when one of the chefs quickly caught on to our dietary restrictions and suggested the date squares as the only other egg AND dairy free option, before we started looking through the rest of the items. J picked up the pakoras but I have no idea what they tasted like. They do have a nice selection of dairy free items, which is nice considering how many people have dairy allergies.
If you like spice like I do, 2 Hot Peppers Salsa Co from Alberta Beach, (780-863-3345) is a great source of Salsa. They have varying levels of heat, from sweet lightly spicy fruity salsas to painful sharp “crying about it later” salsas as well as a vegan friendly guacamole. Since J and I both love excessive spice levels we each picked up one of the two spiciest ones available. The Volcano XXXspicy (with a healthy dose of habanero pepper) and the Ring of Fire. J was smart and also bought the Tropical salsa with mangos, which we later mixed with the Volcano salsa for a slightly diluted spice (however, not by much.) According to the Alberta Beach Farmers Market Facebook page 2 Hot Peppers has a store in Alberta Beach across from the Agriplex.
We also walked by Marina’s Cuisine, a Russian food vendor with cakes and salads. There were a couple of really nice options. J bought a mixed vegetable salad, and I was eying a beet salad, but decided to skip it this weekend. Maybe next time.
I picked up some beautiful deep green dill, amaranth greens, purslane and a bag full of sweet basil from the very familiar Peas on Earth (they are at the St. Albert Farmers Market as well as in Strathcona.) I’ll admit I picked up the purslane and amaranth greens out of curiosity and novelty. Hopefully I’ll come up or find some good recipes to share in the next few days. The fresh sweet basil was the perfect addition to the pizza’s we made later on in the day.
I was excited to see the new to me raw food vendor, Rawtopia. There was a nice little selection of sweet treats like truffles and macaroons. She mentioned that normally she has some flat bread but was out by the time I got there. Samples are available, but their presence doesn’t make it any easier to decide what to get. When in doubt, my philosophy is to choose chocolate, so I did and picked up a package of Chocolate Macaroons. J went with the Blond Macaroons and Sweet Almond Raw Truffles. They are all good; I’m leaning towards the Chocolate Macaroons as my favourite though.
With our Farmer’s Market finds in tow and a quick trip to Breadland (for a spelt based pizza crust) and Earth’s General store (for mozzarella Daiya and sauce), we went home and made basil red pepper pizza. The spelt crust was actually really good, and I’m opening up to trying more and more gluten free options as they become available. I don’t have an intolerance to gluten, but so many of my friends do, that I’d like to really work on making some more gluten free items at home.
What a great day to be outside!